Pair of Delaware Republican officials under fire after comments
Plans are in motion to replace Chris Rowe, chairman of the New Castle County Republican Party, who resigned after posting a gay slur on Facebook just before New Year’s Day.
“I’m going to take care of that promptly,” GOP Chairwoman Jane Brady told the Coastal Point this week. She called Rowe on New Year’s Day, asking him to step down, and said his resignation had been finalized by Monday, Jan. 6.
The Associated Press reported that Rowe had said he had relinquished his seat “begrudgingly and only under duress” and that he serves at Brady’s pleasure.
Meanwhile, Sussex County Republican Party Vice-Chairwoman Nelly Jordan, who made remarks construed by many as anti-Semitic, issued a letter of apology but said she hopes to continue in her role for years to come.
Her future will be discussed at a meeting of the Sussex County Republic Committee on Monday, Jan. 13, in closed session, to review “the disposition of any charges brought against the vice chair,” according to Hylton Phillips-Page, communications director for the committee.
“The executive committee can vote to remove a person from office due to malfeasance or improprieties,” Don Petitmermet, chairman of the Sussex County Republican Party, told the Coastal Point.
The committee’s advisory board was also scheduled to meet this week to talk about potential charges against Jordan.
“The people who know me well, know I am a person of deep faith and conviction,” Jordan wrote in an apology letter dated Saturday, Jan. 4. “I am passionate about my principles and I am always eager to voice my opinions. … While I do not regret my conservative values, I do regret the words I used.
“My wish is for the people of Sussex County to understand I have learned a valuable lesson. It is an honor and a privilege to serve the Republican Party of Sussex County. I hope to continue to do so for many years,” Jordan wrote.
The matter, which drew national attention and was reported by news agencies including CNN, CBS and the Associated Press, is “a no-win situation,” Petitmermet said.
“Everybody is going to take battle damage,” he said.
On Sunday, Jan. 5, Petitmermet issued a statement saying there are procedures for evaluating members’ conduct and holding them accountable, and that they will be “scrupulously adhered to.”
“As the official responsible for ensuring these procedures are conducted properly and fairly, it is not appropriate for me to comment publicly about the matter further,” he stated.
The Sussex County Republican party “welcomes and respects all individuals regardless of color, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation,” he stated.
“This also holds true for the Delaware State Republican party and the national party. We welcome members from all groups, and there is no place for intolerance. In today’s hyper-political environment, words are often used without much thought as to their meaning. That said, we can and must do better,” Petitmermet wrote.
Brady called Rowe’s comments “hurtful, offensive and inappropriate.”
“I think what is lost in all of this is I did not respond to the Democratic blog in making this decision. I responded to the consensus of the leadership and membership of the Republican Party who were offended, and recognized the offensive and hurtful nature of those comments.
“Regardless of the rhetoric, Delaware Republicans are respectful and civil, and they welcome people of all different backgrounds as long as they share our values and beliefs. It would be wrong for people to paint the entire party or the Delaware Republicans by two persons’ comments,” Brady said.
Online comments deemed offensive
Rowe, on Dec. 30, lashed out after unsuccessfully trying to upload a video of a recent shooting in a church in Texas. It was not allowed under YouTube policies.
“Faggots cannot handle reality,” he posted.
Initially, he refused to apologize, saying it was only “locker room talk,” that he has “been using that word since before it ever meant what people are offended by today” and called those hurt by his comment “childish.”
Eric Morrison, who identified himself on Facebook as a Democratic candidate for the Delaware State House of Representatives 27th District, posted screenshots of his heated exchange with Rowe in which Morrison told Rowe he should be ashamed of himself and Rowe said he had used the derogatory epithet in a different sense, “in a manner of alliteration as it is a strong word that captures the ear of the listener and has shock value.”
“If you choose to have it offend you, that’s on you,” Rowe told Morrison, who posted screen shots of the conversation on Jan. 1.
“Sorry your timidity of words has your silk knickers in a twist,” Rowe wrote.
Later, in an interview with WHYY, Rowe said he isn’t perfect and was sorry if his use of the word offended anyone.
In a separate incident, Jordan posted that Jewish people who don’t vote to re-elect Donald Trump are Jews “in name only.” She later wrote in the letter she issued in response to the controversy that she regrets the words used and hopes to continue serving the Republican party for many years.
On Facebook, she wrote that Jews were misled by untruthful Democrats.
Jews “in name only,” she said, are the people who would believe a made-up story of impeachment “that the Democrats have woven as spiders catching flies and bugs.”
She apologized for “raising questions about a people, a faith, a culture whose beliefs span a broad political spectrum.”
Brady said neither she nor the Delaware Republican Party “condones any statements that demean or show disrespect to others.”
“I have requested Chris Rowe’s resignation, and he has agreed to tender it. His comment was offensive and did not reflect the values of respect and tolerance held dear by the Delaware Republican Party. Ultimately, as a result, he lost the support of those he was to lead.
“Our party includes individuals from all different backgrounds, joined together to advance the principles we hold dear. I am proud of Delaware Republicans and their support for the broad range of diversity that makes our party stronger.
“The remarks made by Nelly Jordan, who was elected to her post by the Sussex County GOP Executive Committee, were offensive, hurtful and anti-Semitic. The process is different for Jordan because she was elected into her post and not appointed, unlike Rowe, who was appointed to his position. Nelly will have to make a choice of either resigning or going through a process to seek her removal,” Brady stated.
By Susan Canfora